Inside the Collection: Elliott Pujol
"I know many wonderful artists, but I know very few 'craftsmen.' Elliott Pujol is a great Kansas artist and craftsman." -- M.D. Michaelis, chairman of Emprise Bank, Wichita, Kansas (1)
Elliott Pujol was born in Memphis, TN in 1943. He earned a BA in Theater from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC) in 1968 and went on to receive an MFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry from SIUC in 1971. After finishing graduate school, Pujol was an instructor for the Tyler School of Art at Temple University for two years. In 1973, he joined the art department at Kansas State University (K-State), where he became a full professor in 1983. According to friend M.D. Michaelis, "Though not born in Kansas, Elliott has become a Kansan by virtue of his forty-plus years of teaching and mentoring young artists at Kansas State University. He is well known for his generosity with both his time and his talent.” He was also a guest instructor for the University of Georgia’s 1993 summer program in Cortona, Italy. After 40 years of guiding students in their own careers as artists, metalsmiths, and educations, Pujol retired from K-State in 2013.
Pujol has earned many awards throughout his long career. In 1971, the same year he completed his MFA at SIUC, the National Endowment for the Arts and Penland School of Crafts selected Pujol as one of the 50 outstanding craftsmen in the United States. Three years later, he was invited to be a part of the American delegation of metalsmiths to the World Crafts Council in Toronto, Canada. The Metal Museum selected Pujol as the 2005 Master Metalsmith, and his retrospective exhibition featured vessels made of copper, silver and gold. In 2010, Pujol received a Kansas Governor’s Arts Award, an honor that is given annually to recognize distinguished Kansas artists, patrons and arts educators. He was one of six to receive the award in 2010, chosen by an expert panel of members of the Kansas Arts Commission.
“For the most part, my work is articulated through the format of the vessel. The vessel is a structure of containment or storage; it is a container of space and a definition of form, a hollow or concave receptacle. The continuation of my research and my contemplation of form repeatedly lead me back to the hollow bowl because I feel there is something spiritual or magical about this intrinsically simple form.” – Elliott Pujol (2)
As mentioned above, Pujol’s work is comprised primarily of vessels, including a copper-covered 1960 Dodge truck that K-State's Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art featured on its rooftop gallery in 2008. Although he has worked in a variety of metals, he favors copper because of its workability. "It seems to take texture and color better, so I can more easily create the surface I want while I'm working with it," he said (3). In the 1980s, Pujol was also known for teaching workshops on how to work with brass metal tubing.
The Metal Museum currently has 5 works crafted by Pujol, one vessel and four rings. The vessel Grace was donated by Pujol to the Museum in 2010, following the 2009 Re-make / Re-model exhibition, where artists were asked to create a new work based on an existing piece in the Metal Museum’s Permanent Collection. Grace was inspired by an early 20th century bunt pan made of cast iron with black paint.
Pujol recently donated four rings to the Museum that he made during graduate school at SIUC. Each is made of 1” brass tubing that has been manipulated with hammers and chasing punches and without using solder. The rings are currently on display in our New Acquisitions Gallery and will be included in the 2019 Crafting a Legacy exhibition here at the Metal Museum. Come join us this Sunday, July 22nd, for a special gallery talk in the New Acquisitions Gallery to learn more about all our recent acquisitions!
2. Master Metalsmith: Elliott Pujol (Memphis, TN: National Ornamental Metal Museum, 2005), 2.